Web Design: The Most Effective Tool for Reducing Friction

Larry Alton
by Larry Alton 16 Jan, 2023

When a user visits your website, the last thing you want is for them to feel like the experience is rough, choppy, and fragmented. They should be able to find what they want, when they want, and with as little effort as possible.

Your web design strategy will make or break this.

4 Design Tips to Reduce Friction

Think about the last time you purchased something on Amazon. All you had to do was open your account, add the product to your cart, and complete the transaction.

Amazon knows your address, payment information, shipping preferences, and any other pertinent details, which eliminates almost all effort on your part. Then consider that the product will probably arrive on your doorstep within two days. That's what we would call a totally frictionless buyer experience.

While you might not have the supply chain or infrastructure needed to offer free two-day delivery to your customers, you certainly have the ability to promote a frictionless website experience through strategic web design.

Not sure where to start? Let's dive right in:

  1. Go Easy on the Text

    Written text is a powerful way to convey ideas to visitors, but you don't want too much on your website, lest you overwhelm and discourage your audience.

    "Content exists in multiple dimensions: text, images, graphics, and animations," designer and developer Jerry Cao reminds us. "The web is a visual world, so use images and graphics to take advantage of different cognitive processes. This creates a rhythm in the user's mind, which of course lessens the cognitive load."

  2. Directly Address Common Questions

    From the user side, few things are more frustrating than arriving on a website, having an issue, and being unable to get clarity on the underlying problem. If you know your visitors have common issues, be forthcoming and address them.

    One of the best steps you can take is to provide a frequently asked questions page on your site. Not only does this provide customers with immediate access to pressing questions, but it also reduces customer service call and email volume (which is chock-full of friction for customers).

    This FAQ page from Stratos Jet Charters is an example of what a simple, well-designed FAQ page should look like. It's complete with dropdown menus and contact information.

  3. Divide Up Content

    Your website is one of the primary mediums through which you push out content and engage your audience. Unfortunately, it's easy to get carried away. Aside from cleaning up your content and making it concise, you should be strategic with how you place the content into the site.

    "Be sure to divide the sea of content into small blocks and provide the information in small bursts along the way," website developer Adam Frankel says. "This practice is known as chunking. It helps in continuing the pace of the information provided while preventing the user from feeling too overwhelmed."

  4. Use More Negative Space
    The final design tip is simple and straightforward: use more negative space. By taking a minimalistic approach to web design, you remove distractions and give users the chance to focus on the elements that matter.

Let Web Design Lubricate

Good web design is like an application of grease on a set of rusty gears. It provides lubrication and gives the gears the ability to perform the way they were designed.

While your website might be functioning fine right now, it's likely that unnecessary friction is holding your visitors back from experiencing it to the optimal degree. Address some of the issues discussed in this article and see what happens.